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In the NFC, there are a quartet of teams who, as things stand today, would be playing bridesmaid when the playoffs get underway.
Arizona Cardinals (9-5)
Every two or three years, there's a 10-6 team that's left swinging in the breeze come playoff time. This year the the Redbirds are the leading candidate, sitting one game back of the 49ers and Panthers with a brutal two-game stretch (at Seattle, San Francisco) to close the season.
However, the Cardinals do hold the tiebreaker over Carolina, so a Panthers loss to New Orleans Sunday would open the door for the Cardinals to leapfrog them with a win against the Seahawks.
Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)
Detroit's continuing swoon has the Packers back in the thick of things in the NFC North. In fact, if the Packers can take care of the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, then the Packers and Bears will battle on December 29 in a game that will probably decide the NFC North.
Detroit Lions (7-7)
The Lions had the NFC North neatly handed to them on a plate, and over the past month, they've choked on it. Now, after dropping their third game in four weeks, the Lions need losses by both Green Bay and Chicago (including at least one this week) coupled with two Lions wins to make the postseason.
Dallas Cowboys (7-7)
Stop laughing. Even after dropping last Sunday's game to Green Bay in heartbreaking fashion and losing their last two, the Dallas Cowboys still control their own destiny. It's simple. Win out (including at home against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17) and the Cowboys will be NFC East champions.
In fact, a Dallas loss to Washington this week isn't necessarily a killer, provided the Eagles lose in Week 16 as well.